I’m sitting by my window and it’s raining outside. I can hear the pitter patter of raindrops on the window sill. It’s gloomy and romantic, which makes it quite ironically lovely weather.
My earliest memory of the rain is a birthday party that went kaput because it rained! I think it was my 5th birthday and all the kids from Little Folks KG 2 were invited. I haven’t had the chance to celebrate many birthdays because my birthday fell right before the exams started on March 1st (Damn you ICSE board) maybe at the age of 5 I pre-empted the lack of many future parties and was really looking forward to cut a cake, play pin the donkey and at the end of the evening open gifts.
I sat there in the veranda sad because it was raining and no one would show up. But someone did... a little girl in a dark purple dress and purple stockings with a gift in her hand. She was at that point of time my bestest friend, it is sad I don’t remember her name anymore... but that snap shot of her walking in the drive way is ingrained in my mind as a happy memory. I am split between the cause of happiness at that point of the 5 year old me – was it the fact that ‘someone’ showed up .. or that I did get at least one gift. I do think it must be the latter.
Kanpur used to have a proper monsoon. Two months of solid rain and sometimes sporadic rain in the winter (mostly on my birthday) which meant lots of rainy day holidays and lots of flies. The earth used to smell with the first rain .. the same kinds that we tried to replicate when we watered the plants and the drive way in scorching summer.
I have been trying to scratch my head to dig deep into my memories of Kanpur lately. I did stay there for 16 years of my life but now most memories are a snap shot or relate to a smell or just get a deep sinking feeling in the gut.
The house that I grew up in, the veranda where we sat and watched the rain and the drive way where we climbed trees is now gone.
The day my Dad called me to tell me he is finally leaving the city, I really tried hard to feel bad but I knew he was sad (and as I understand now, as we grow up and our parents age there is a subtle role reversal) so I told him not to worry because home is where the heart is.
Sitting and watching the rain today and flooded with the memory of my 5th birthday party I start thinking of the house I grew up in.
I remember the numerous times I bruised myself, the place where we buried Fluffy and then the place where we buried Snoopy.
How I never wanted to get out so while playing with the servants kids so I always had a kachi turn. The million lizards, snakes and bats we lived with. How that house seemed so big and now when I look into the picture my Dad sends me on BBM it looks so small.
I remember the little kitchen and the goody cupboard, how on the first of each month my Mom would go ration shopping and come back with Pure Magic and Jim Jam biscuits for us. How we would gobble the packet the same day and yearn for them for the next 29 days. The smell of the old wooden furniture and coolers... On every Saturday after a lunch of Kadi Chawal how we would in the evenings to take relief from the heat go and have ThumsUp with ice cream and buy flowers from little kids. We would come back to hours of load shedding and sit in the garden and sing songs.
We lived isolated from the world but Murray Cottage had its share of gossip.
Our friends and neighbours, the maids, dhobis and workers who were more family than anyone else stayed stuck in Technicolor while we moved on.
We grew up and left. I went back a few times after I left the city I grew up in, after I made a home in another city and then another but what I left at Murray Cottage was my childhood, my innocence.
My cupboard stands alone today in a ghost house with scribbles – Amir Khan, Tom Cruise, Rahul Dravid, Bryan Adams.... the stickers I put on my now empty desk stare at blank walls...
When I think of home today I think of where my loved ones are. I think of Ahmedabad and I think of the warmth that comes from them to that house.
All things eventually go away ... a childhood or a home .... what matters is what you carry with you as you grow up and walk away.
To Murray Cottage, You gave me enough experiences and stories to relate to my unborn children. There will always be a part of you in me.